Back in the 1980’s I had a formative experience as an astrologer, which arose from the visit of a rather difficult client. She had Pisces rising and her grasp of reality and especially relationships was very tenuous – or so it seemed to me. She was convinced that she was being constantly followed by men. I was convinced that this was a product of her imagination and tried to explain the projection mechanisms of her chart ruler Neptune, which was exactly in conjunction with her Descendant.
After a rather unsuccessful consultation she left, and I too prepared to leave the office at the end of the working day. Acutely conscious that I must not appear to be following her, I left ample time for her to depart to the bus stop. After five to ten minutes I left the office, only to find her still on the stairs consulting a bus timetable. I smiled weakly and closed the door again, but this time watched from the window – yes my behavior was already being modified – until I saw her set off. After a suitable period elapsed I walked into town by a circuitous route to avoid running into her. On arriving at the town square and passing the central bus stop, a bus pulled in, the door swung opened, and out she stepped. She took one look at me and marched off in the opposite direction.

She had been right all along. Men were obviously following her all the time.

What was interesting about this episode was that her version of reality had been confirmed, and my behavior had changed to conform to it. And it occurred to me that this is in fact what happens with all belief systems. The simple truth is that we create our own reality and the world aligns itself to our beliefs.

The reader has perhaps noticed that whenever you discuss with someone who has strong beliefs, it is amazing how one’s own arguments are brushed aside or even high jacked to prove the other person’s case. Lawyers – professionals who know in the core of their being that truth is just a matter of presentation – have perfected this art. Truth is a matter of what you can get others to subscribe to.

Beliefs are an essential element of personal identity, and are only likely to be changed or abandoned as a result of a life crisis. Astrologers are particularly attached to their belief, which is that the smallest thing in the universe is subject to the same process as the largest, and that an observation of planetary movement correlates with human behavior and historical development. Curiously however, even though there is ample evidence that astrology works for the actual practitioner, it has been impossible to convincingly prove this correlation through scientific or statistical methods. (Note 1) Nurses do not have a predominance of planetary placements in Virgo. Warriors to not have a predominance of planetary placements in Aries – to mention one area of misconception.

One difficulty in proving astrology is that a person already needs to be proficient in the subject to understand its workings. And skeptics can rarely be bothered. It is a bit like Einstein claiming that energy and matter are interrelated and interconnected. The average person just would not understand the mathematics involved. And so it is with all subjects – you have to be totally absorbed by them to enjoy their workings.

The most effective belief systems are the ones which have the greatest number of believers. What is crucial for a belief system is that its consequences are beneficial. Romans believed in the planetary gods and Mars in particular, and entertained their people in huge arenas which featured the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people and animals. When the Christian values of love and compassion suppressed Martian bloodlust, then humanity was better off – though the Roman Empire was not. Christian beliefs were very polarizing however, and the watertight division between good and evil did not leave much room for maneuver. However, astrology was both tolerated and embraced by the church, the establishment and a number of popes up to the time of the Reformation, and formed the backbone of most studies.

It was with the Reformation and the Newtonian revolution, which brought a new age of rationalism and scientific materialism, that astrology failed to measure up to standards of proof and fell into disrepute. This new scientific era brought objectivity and a powerful separation between mind and matter, spirit and body, and subject and object. This in turn brought a language of cause and effect, action and reaction. With the subjection of matter to the mind, the material world was tamed and exploited. This belief system brought material plenty but impoverished the world’s resources.

With the discovery of the theory of relativity and quantum physics, the scientific materialism of the past has been replaced with a new awareness of interrelationship. It has been conclusively proved that the scientific observer actually influences the results of an experiment at a subatomic level. It is impossible to objectively establish whether the scientist is dealing with particles (matter) or waves (energy) at this level. The consequences of this quantum belief system is to bring an awareness of unity in duality. The observer and the observed are interconnected. Matter and energy are one. Body and mind are unified. This is a fertile field for astrology too, because transformation and change take place when the astrologer and client are joined in a unified field of consciousness – something which is impossible to establish objectively.

Astrologically belief systems are very clearly shown by Mercury and by Jupiter. Mercury and its aspects shows what the mind is attracted to, how information is absorbed and processed, what is filtered in, and what is filtered out. It is instructive to look at the horoscope for Galileo, whose own genius and beliefs resulted in his imprisonment and near death.

Galileo 25.02.1564 NS 15.31 LMT Pisa. AS 11.51 LE. Source: AstroDataBank

Galileo has his Mercury in close conjunction with Pluto in Pisces in the 8th house – which certainly shows a person who nearly suffered martyrdom for his beliefs. He was forced to recant his beliefs under charges of heresy. The Jupiter/Saturn conjunction in the 12th almost certainly represents the Catholic Church whose main job throughout history has been to enforce orthodoxy. By maintaining a body of belief which has been unchanged through the centuries, the church sought to control schism and it has to be said that it has largely succeeded. By ensuring continuity of belief, the church has kept its flock unified, and therefore it has been, and still is, a major world power. Someone like Galileo, who was mad enough to claim that the Earth revolved around the Sun, had to be stopped. In fact his writings were banned until 1822. Of course the church was not exactly wrong. The Earth only revolves around the Sun relatively speaking… they have later both been discovered to revolve around the Galactic Center.

Not to speak badly of Galileo, but he was probably a bit cranky. His Mercury conjoins the Sun, which, apart from the conjunction with Pluto is closely square Uranus in Sagittarius on the one side and Neptune in Gemini on the other. My guess is that he made quite an issue of his discoveries and was not exactly diplomatic in relation to the church. This T-square shows that it was his mission to usher in a new world order.

Quite another set of thoughts and beliefs was embraced by the serial killer Ted Bundy, who had Mercury conjoining Venus in Scorpio – both of them retrograde.

Ted Bundy: 24.11.1946 22.35 EST Burlington, VT AS 25.03 LE. Source: AstroDataBank

Obviously his thoughts centered on women and sexuality. He graduated in psychology, but was possessed by his own demons. Here Jupiter plays a decisive role. Also in Scorpio it is exactly square Pluto, the signature for fanatical beliefs. Bundy was good at disguises and often used the ploy of having his arm in a plaster cast and asking for help from unsuspecting young women, who were then knocked down inside his vehicle. He was born a day after a solar eclipse that conjoined Mars, which may explain the violent nature of his life and fate.

Whilst Mercury shows the activity of the mind, Jupiter indicates what a person chooses to believe in, and how these beliefs are expressed. If you were a crime profiler, there would have been little difficulty in identifying the murderous nature of Ted Bundy’s beliefs. When Mercury and Jupiter are in aspect to each other, then it shows considerable hunger for knowledge and often a high degree of intelligence. If these planets are in fixed signs, then it shows unshakeable beliefs. The negative side of Jupiter is the conviction that other people are wrong, or that injustices are being done, so often these individuals are involved in a crusade for justice.

In Ted Bundy’s case, the Mercury/Venus conjunction with Jupiter in square to Pluto brought obsessive beliefs about women and necrophilia. His mother had been rather religious, and when she got pregnant with an unknown sailor she was sent away to a home for unwed mothers and the shame of the illegitimate birth was never spoken of in the family. He was left at the nursing home while is family considered whether or not to keep him, and after a few months his violent grandfather decided to take him in. There was little material for a loving relation to women there.

In the last analysis beliefs are either beneficial and empowering, or undermining and damaging. A recent client, who had Sun opposing Jupiter and square Pluto was convinced that Muslim immigrants were plotting against the country, and that they should all be expelled. Extreme and paranoid beliefs are typical of Jupiter/Pluto combinations. His family members no longer wished to see him, because he would go on and on about the dangers Muslims posed. This was a dis-empowering belief, not least because a twentieth of the population is Muslim. (Even more proof that they should be sent back to where they come form before it is too late, argued my client).

The important thing to know about beliefs is that they say little about reality, but they say an awful lot about the person who embraces them. Generally we associate with people who share our beliefs, and this reinforces a sense that we have a grasp on the truth. But the truth is relative to our cultural inheritance and personal psychology. Reality can only be grasped through the unity of subject and object, and if that can be achieved, there is nothing to grasp and no one to do the grasping. New universal belief systems are taking over – your carbon footprint, global warming, the ozone layer – and the consequences of these belief systems will be a healthier world. And in the realm of ideas, holistic belief systems like astrology will have friendly consequences for the collective psyche by bringing in a new non-judgmental and inclusive life philosophy.

Adrian Ross Duncan 10th August 2009

1. There are some proven statistical effects, though rather weak, most notably the “Mars Effect” and certain house placements for high achievements. (Established by Francois Gauquelin)